Letting go of “traditional” assignments

Something I’ve been considering with the development of a hybrid version of my course, “Disney: Gender, Race, Empire,” is letting go of some of the more traditional assignments I’ve often used– for instance, the final essay exam. In the face-to-face version of the course, I’ve relied on this exam as a way for students to demonstrate their overall understanding of key themes and concepts. After writing regular (weekly) critical essays all term, the final is a way for them to synthesize what they’ve learned, and cite many of the readings and films in these longer essays. However, inspired by an idea by a former graduate student who assisted with the course once, I’m in the process of developing a more creative and collaborative way for students to work together–online and in the classroom–to create “learning guides” as projects to apply what they’ve learned. This would move me away from the “sage on the stage” practice that others have already discussed in earlier posts, and would also engage students in different ways, addressing some of the learning objectives for the course (e.g., developing media literacy around issues of gender, race, class, sexuality; learning skills to be able to talk with others, including children viewers, about the power and social meanings of Disney–and other–images; work collaboratively; etc.). I think this is one of the most significant aspects of this hybrid course development process for me… It’s pushing me to rethink all aspects of the course.

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3 Responses to Letting go of “traditional” assignments

  1. harwella says:

    I share your thoughts of “letting go” as I have been facing a lot of that lately myself. I can hear from your post that you are facing a change from a “sage on the stage” model to a more dynamic student collaborative model. It sounds like your course would be a great fit for that although I feel your pain about having to rethink everything about how you teach and deliver a course. I don’t know about you, but this hybrid course development program has me excited and fascinated and scared and uncertain all at the same time. I don’t know if I have ever thought so much about HOW I teach in such a concentrated period of time. In closing though, I think that your course will be wonderful as a hybrid and it will create an incredibly dynamic learning community.

  2. sakuraip says:

    I really like the “learning guide” idea for an assignment–takes the peer teaching concept quite literally and seems like a great way to help students synthesize what they’ve learned (definitely nothing better to get one to explicitly and carefully think about something than having to teach it to someone else). Also brings in a collaborative aspect. Might have to adopt this into my own assignments, if that’s okay–seems like a great way to implement some of the concepts we’ve been discussing/studying.

  3. Joonkoo Yun says:

    It is an interesting idea. I, however, still want to have sit-down exam because it is not only assess student learning but also force students to study for exam.

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